Friday, October 31, 2008

Autumn Baking

In the spirit of the season and since I wanted something fun to do tonight while handing out candy to trick or treaters, I decided to try a couple of dessert recipes that I had bookmarked. Both contain one of my favorite fall ingredients, pumpkin.

While Nate's the cook between the two of us, I love to bake, and frankly, I don't do enough of it. Like paper crafting, it is a hobby I truly enjoy. And I read several food and baking blogs that always have me itching to try new recipes. So I've decided that I'm going to attempt to do a lot more baking...for the fun of trying new things. Now, of course, this could be detrimental to our waistlines, so I've developed the perfect solution. Bring my baking projects into work and share them with my teammates! smile

So back to the pumpkin...

I recently ran across a recipe for Pumpkin Swirl Brownies on the Smitten Kitchen blog. Hmm, I like pumpkin and I like chocolate, so who could go wrong with both mixed together? An interesting combination I just had to try!

I quickly mixed up the two batters--chocolate and pumpkin--with no issues, except that I forgot that Nate had used all my baking powder, and yes, for a reason other than baking. So he kindly...after a little prodding...went to the grocery store for me to buy some more. Once I had that, the batters were easy to complete.

One warning though, this probably isn't the best recipe to whip up when you know you'll be constantly interrupted by the ringing doorbell. It specifically says that when laying the batters to prepare for swirling them "Work quickly so batters don’t set." Uh, yeah. My chocolate batter was so think by the time I went to spread and swirl it that I didn't get the best swirl.

Oh well. Live and learn. They don't look bad, they're just not as swirly as they could be. The final product...

One other thing to note... I hate our gas oven. It's just doesn't heat items as evenly as a conventional oven would. I cooked these much longer than suggested and I'm still not sure the middle ones were quite done. I think I'm going to try and add 25 degrees to the recommended oven temperature on all recipes from now on.

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies
Taken from Smitten Kitchen

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (the original recipe calls for the larger amount; I think it could be dialed down a bit)
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.

5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.

6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.

7. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

Once I put the brownies in the oven, I got to work on these Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Maple Butter Frosting I found on the Bakerella blog. The maple brought back memories of the Maple Cookies we made for wedding favors that everyone liked so much, so I my interest was immediately piqued.

These were super easy to mix up.

The batter was very light and fluffy and tasted yummy! Once I got out the brownies to cool, I put the first batch of cookies in.

After they'd been in there twice as long as the recipe stated and they still looked runny, I realized Nate had turned off my oven instead of turning off the beeping kitchen timer (he was cooking at the same time). razz So once the oven pre-heated again, these baked much better! They also ended up taking more time than stated with the gas oven.

While they were baking and cooling, I whipped up the maple icing. It was very tasty.

The cookies are good without the icing, but adding the maple flavor just gives them a little extra sweetness and umph...

The cookies are very soft and chewy, I'm assuming from the addition of the pumpkin. Everyone at work is going to love me!

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Taken from Bakerella

2 1/4 cup self-rising flour
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

  • Whisk together flour and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream butter.
  • Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  • Add flour/spice mixture to sugar mixture in three additions. Alternate with pumpkin in two additions, ending with flour mixture.
  • Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chunks.
  • Drop on cookie tray lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Makes about four dozen cookies.
  • Let cool.

Maple Brown Butter Frosting

3 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp maple flavoring

  • Sift sugar and set aside.
  • Melt butter over medium heat until golden brown. Watch closely so it does not burn.
  • Add butter to sugar, scraping all the butter into the bowl.
  • Add milk and maple flavoring. Stir until smooth.
  • Spread on top of cookies with an knife or offset spatula.


  © Free Blogger Templates Photoblog III by 2008

Back to TOP